On June 29, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev participated in the Sixth Caspian Summit held in Ashgabad, Turkmenistan, Akorda press service reports. At the event, the presidents of Kazakhstan, Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Russia discussed mutual cooperation and set the top priorities for the region. QazMonitor reports on the key economic aspects addressed in the Kazakh president's speech at the Summit.
Unprecedented 'global storm'
In his speech, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev thanked Serdar Berdymukhamedov for his warm hospitality and the excellent organization of the summit. At the same time, the head of our state described the holding of this important meeting in a face-to-face format as justified and timely.
President Tokayev started by recognizing the changes happening on a global scale and highlighted the importance of the Caspian Sea as a hub of economic activity.
"Four years have passed since the historic summit in Aktau. During this time, the world has changed dramatically. The coronavirus pandemic, the growing geopolitical tension and other challenges require us, like never before, to combine our efforts to ensure the stability and sustainable development of the Caspian region," said Tokayev.
In the face of an unprecedented "global storm", the Caspian Sea is becoming an important topic of discussion because of its geostrategic location, its rich natural resources, and its unique transit potential. The signing of the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea after many years of negotiations, which laid a solid legal foundation for the comprehensive strengthening of five-sided cooperation, is clear proof of this.
A sea of unlimited opportunities
Kassym-Jomart Tokayev stressed that the Caspian Sea is not only a huge reservoir of valuable resources but also "a sea of unlimited opportunities". In his speech, the Head of State outlined promising approaches to further cooperation in order to effectively utilize the potential of the Caspian countries.
"Today, our primary objective is to ensure that the resolutions of the Convention come into full force. For four years, we have been working diligently to find mutually acceptable solutions for this issue. We in Kazakhstan are sympathetic to the position of the parties, as these issues directly affect national interests. For our part, we are ready to make every effort to achieve the desired result," said the President.
Unified tariffs, no bottlenecks
Kassym-Jomart Tokayev believes that the disruption of traditional logistical chains and transport interconnectivity is becoming a key factor for sustainable growth and strengthening economic ties between states. In his opinion, the Trans-Caspian international transport route is playing a bigger role in ensuring transit flows between Europe, Central Asia and China.
"Following the results of the first 5 months of this year, the volume of transportation of Kazakhstan's cargoes along the route increased 2.5 times, and the total cargo turnover with the Caspian countries increased by more than 9%. In order to increase the volume of cargo flow by sea, we have started modernizing its port infrastructure and expanding the maritime fleet," said the Head of State.
I believe that we should jointly and promptly solve urgent organizational issues. This concerns timely approval of mutually acceptable and unified tariffs and the elimination of bottlenecks. Special attention should also be paid to the further development of the promising North-South corridor. For this purpose, it is possible to make maximum use of the railroad "Kazakhstan - Turkmenistan - Iran", which is the shortest route between East Asia and the Persian Gulf countries.
Caspian food hub: big turnover, minimal costs
Kassym-Jomart Tokayev focused separately on the issue of strengthening food security in the region. He said that last year the volume of mutual trade of Kazakhstan with the Caspian countries amounted to approximately $3.5 billion, of which about 70% was with Russia via the overland route.
"It is encouraging that Kazakhstan's trade turnover with Azerbaijan grew 2.3 times, with Iran and Turkmenistan two times. Our export of high-quality wheat (about 5 million tons) and food flour (about 1.5 million tons) takes a big share here. At the same time, we have reserves for oilseeds in the amount of more than 1 million tons. In addition, Kazakhstan has significant potential to increase exports of meat and dairy products," said the President of Kazakhstan.
In order to strengthen trade cooperation between our states, we have to sequentially develop modern logistics infrastructure. Therefore, we propose to create a Caspian food hub, which will allow increasing mutual trade turnover with minimal costs
The President said that the construction of modern wholesale and distribution centers with a technologically advanced system of warehousing, storage and sale of food products has begun in Kazakhstan.
"The systemic integration of these centers with the Caspian food hub will open up new opportunities for effective cooperation of farmers, buyers, carriers, sellers and consumers. Most importantly, it will provide reliable guarantees for the sale of all products supplied," Kassym-Jomart Tokayev concluded.